The governments of Canada and Manitoba have agreed on a new framework to help immigrants enter careers that use their training and knowledge sooner, Labour and Immigration Minister Jennifer Howard and Entrepreneurship, Training and Trade Minister Peter Bjornson, announced today. 

The Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications outlines a new vision, a set of guiding principles and the desired results for improving the assessment and recognition of internationally trained workers’ qualifications, the ministers said. 

The Honourable Jennifer Howard

The Honourable Jennifer Howard

“By working with this new structure, we are helping to build a strong Canadian economy.  With this framework, Manitoba will continue to build and diversify our provincial workforce and be better equipped to emerge from the downturn ready to compete in the new economy,” said Howard. 

The Government of Canada has committed $50 million toward the framework and will work with the provinces and territories to remove barriers to foreign qualification recognition across the country.  The initial focus will be on eight occupations by December 2010, and an additional six by December 2012. 

The Honourable Peter Bjornson

The Honourable Peter Bjornson

“We want to ensure Manitoba benefits from the skills of highly trained immigrants,” said Bjornson. “We must continue to work toward improving our capacity to assess and recognize foreign qualifications and look for ways to help utilize immigrants’ talents while skill shortages persist.” 

The new national framework states that governments across Canada will create better pre-arrival services, assessments that are fair, transparent, consistent and timely, and improve workforce participation services for newcomers.    

“We welcome the commitment of significant resources by Ottawa, which we hope will assist in providing much needed pre-arrival information and planning to immigrant professionals, as well as assist us to continue working with regulators to improve their recognition processes,” Howard said. 

The ministers said the national framework complements the province’s Fair Registration Practices in Regulated Professions Act, which was enacted in 2007.  This act ensures that regulated professions are governed by registration practices that are transparent, objective, impartial and fair.  A fairness commissioner was hired in 2008 to ensure the act is properly implemented, they said.  

“More than 11,000 immigrants arrive in Manitoba annually and most are highly educated and experienced,” Howard said. “The skills, experience and knowledge of skilled workers is vital to the province’s growth.” 

“Manitoba has been an active participant in the development of this new framework and we will continue to lead efforts to streamline, simplify and improve foreign qualifications assessment and recognition practices here and across Canada,” said Bjornson. 

The new framework calls for foreign-trained workers who submit a full application to be licensed or registered to work in their field will be informed of a decision in a timely manner.  Within one year of their application, workers should learn whether their qualifications will be recognized; be advised of any additional requirements to be fully recognized; and be directed to alternative options or related occupations that would benefit from their skills and experience. 

“The Pan-Canadian Framework is a valuable step forward because it commits jurisdictions to working towards a national standard that is consistent with and reflects progress made in Manitoba, which will better position Canada in the international context as an attractive and accessible immigration destination for skilled professionals,” Howard said.